The Mediterranean Spanish province of Valencia is known as the home of paella, and though there are plenty of iterations of this dish that revolve around fruits of the sea, the true “Paella Valenciana” is all about the bounty of the land. Typical proteins include chicken, rabbit, and snails (feel free to go hunting in your garden for the latter is you find this recipe lacking).
According to tradition in Valencia, paella is cooked over an open fire, fueled by orange and pine branches along with pine cones. This produces an aromatic smoke which infuses the paella.
Tip: Cover the paella for 10 minutes prior to eating to allow the flavors to settle into the dish.
- 1 kg Calasparra “bomba” rice (you could substitute Arborio rice)
- ½ kg of chicken thigh, jointed
- ½ kg of rabbit, jointed
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper
- 400 gr green beans, chopped
- 6 large tomatoes, grated. Without skin
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 rosemary sprig (garnish)
- 1 tablespoon “sweet” smoked Spanish paprika
- 3 ½ liters chicken stock
- Olive Oil
- Begin by preparing all of your “mise en place” (dicing onions, grating tomatoes on a box grater, etc). Bring your chicken stock to barely a simmer, as it needs to be hot when added to the paella, and start browning your proteins. Lightly salt and nicely sear the chicken thighs in hot oil in the paella pan, then remove them before lightly browning and seasoning the rabbit (less aggressively seared than the chicken as rabbit is much leaner). Then, in the same pan add the diced onions and peppers, cooking over medium heat until softened. Then, add the paprika and cook for just 30 seconds before adding the grated tomato and minced garlic. Return the chicken and rabbit to the pan and cook the tomato until it is reduced and dark “brick red". Once the tomato is cooked into a thick paste, add the rice and stir for several minutes to “toast” the grains before adding the simmering chicken stock and 3-4 threads of saffron. Important: Only add enough stock to just cover the rice by a few rice grains’ width.
- Only stir once (or you’ll get risotto) to evenly distribute the rice in the pan, then simmer on high heat for around 5 minutes and low heat for another 15 or so, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Once the rice is cooked and the liquid is gone, turn off the heat, place the rosemary sprig on top of the rice, and cover the pan with a clean dish cloth for 10 minutes to allow the cooking to finish without the paella getting soggy.